Tuesday, October 25, 2016

6 Tips Marketing Researchers Can Learn From Social Media

This post was originally published on Lightspeed GMI’s blog.

Social media has caused a massive shift in the way people communicate, interact and share experiences and personal interests. Consumers are always on, always connected. Consumers build unique online relationships; they are connected to brands, athletes, teams, family, friends and co-workers on multiple channels. Sharing everything from political views to favorite products, social media users are leaking valuable information and insights for researchers to take advantage of.

Marketing researchers have adapted Mobile First best practices; but are we also looking to benefit from the same openness and flexibility that social media platforms have to offer? There are six ways to successfully engage and capture relevant and actionable feedback from your panelists based on social media best practices:

1.       Focus on people, not metrics: Our industry refers to panelists, not people. Are we focusing on why individuals are dropping out of surveys? Are we worried about their enjoyment of a survey or just survey completes? Create consumer conversations, not metrics.  
2.       Stay authentic: According to Digital Stats, 92% of consumers say they trust earned media like personal recommendations above other forms of advertising. Authentic brands do better on social media, but trust is earned over time. If you want to capture genuine consumer insights, treat your online survey as you would a social media account. Be honest and upfront about your intent.
3.       Engage, don’t push: Want to get better research? Consider the way you are asking questions. Similiar to social media posts, consumers favor shorter, visually appealing surveys with a strong narrative structure.Engage your respondents first, ask questions later.
4.       Let the consumer decide: video, text or photo? Social media platforms are constantly evolving, but they always remain focused on consumer adoption. According to Spinklr, marketers need to find new ways to capture the attention of the consumer who has seen just about everything. Every day, more and more individuals are starting surveys on their mobile devices over PCs. They are deciding when and what device to take the survey; why not let them decide on the format? We design for cross-device research, so why not design cross-format?
5.       Be relevant: Across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you want to reach your target audience with relevant content – photos, posts and videos. Like social media, marketing research is a crowded space; panelists are flooded with survey invites daily. Be relevant: ask the right questions, in the right sequence to the right audience.
6.       Interactions first, technology second: Social media planning 101 = interactions first, channel second. Allow your panelists, not technology, to drive the future of the industry. Are marketing researchers allowing technology to dictate the future or panelists? Are you focused on building mobile research apps or consumer feedback apps?

Gaining success in social media isn’t easy; it’s a process, a way of thinking. Social media can be used to create and collect customer intelligence through listening techniques. And this can also ring true in the online survey world. Think about it: Brands have the capacity to cultivate conversations with consumers...but often don’t. Researchers who are successful in gaining insights from surveys are the ones who allow the consumer to take the wheel and drive how marketers can collect information from them. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram allow users to be creative and communicate in whatever method is enjoyable to them.  Why not allow online panelists that same freedom? By allowing panelists to communicate with you through mediums that are most enjoyable to them, through video for example, you could garner more authentic and elaborate feedback. Rather than force tedious or possibly challenging lengthy open text responses, try allowing an option for using text or video responses. Instead of requiring respondents to rate a product on a variety of features through a MaxDiff exercise, try engaging them in conversation through communities or discussion boards.

The perfect solution for the survey world isn’t available in 140 characters or less, unfortunately. But the successes of social media are ours to grow from.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Here Be (Inner) Dragons: The Art Of Storytelling

Day 3 at TMRE ended with a charming and funny keynote on storytelling, by a man who’s lived and worked it for decades. Francis Glebas has decades of experience at Disney and Dreamworks in their visual development and storyboarding departments, and has written books about his work there (Directing The Story and The Animator’s Eye). 

90s kids in particular would be impressed by his visual CV: helping nail the look of Aladdin’s nemesis Jafar, and storyboarding the bittersweet parting scene in Pocahontas. Now Glebas storyboards Sofia The First, a show about a girl who becomes a princess by accident. He shared stories from his career and spun them into useful advice for research and marketing professionals looking to tell a few tales of their own.

Presentations about storytelling tend to take two routes. One is to focus on story archetypes – the basic concepts that sit behind almost all the stories we tell – like “rags to riches” or “boy meets girl”. The other is to talk about story structure – the shape of stories, and the rise and fall of the protagonist’s fortunes. The two things cross over somewhat – “tragedy” is both an archetype (a story with a sad ending) and a particular kind of inversion of a typical story shape, as a protagonist rises then falls, instead of the other way around.

Glebas had things to say about both topics. A storyboarder – the person who draws out the way scripted action is going to look on screen, as if it was a comic book – has an enormous effect on how a story reaches its audience. For instance, he worked on Pocahontas throughout its development – he was in the room when it was pitched, and he went on to storyboard the pivotal scene where John Smith and Pocahontas must leave each other. 

This scene, and the story as a whole, had been pitched as a Romeo And Juliet tragic love story, but trying to draw it that way ended up flat. Then Glebas realised – it’s not tragic, it’s bittersweet. Not Romeo And Juliet, but Casablanca. He redrew the storyboards to make the characters’ love more obvious and their agency more apparent – and it worked.

The lesson is that having ‘a story’ isn’t enough. You have to be telling the right story, to get the emotional tone right and leave people feeling happy. 

Glebas also talked about effective structure. His watchword is the “four Ws” which explain the arc of a great story. It all starts with a WISH – something the protagonist wants. But then they do something WRONG – overreach themselves, make a mistake, find themselves up against too strong an enemy. It’s then that things are at their WORST – they have not only not got their wish, but they’ve lost what they had. 

But, as Glebas put it, “when you are in hell, you reorganise or die”. And the story takes a dramatic upswing (like the neck of a fire-breathing dragon) into WONDER, where by making things right again the protagonist gets more than they ever dreamed possible.

WISH-WRONG-WORST-WONDER. Glebas presented this structural guide as part motivational lesson (“find your inner dragon and ignite your fire!”) and part pragmatic tip on how to structure stories when it’s your turn to tell them. It was a warm, wise presentation. 

As with every storytelling guide the precise set of archetypes and the exact ‘universal’ structure varies – but once you’ve seen a few that nets out as a feature, not a bug. Storytelling guides are like diets – it’s a case of finding the one that suits you, not hunting vainly for one that never fails.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Category Insights: Rainy Day Segments #12 And #35

It isn’t often that marketers get to blaze a trail through an entirely new consumer category – rolling out brand identities and category signifiers from scratch – but legal marijuana offers just such an opportunity.

Except, as Emily Paxhia of Poseidon Asset Management – a firm that invests heavily in the budding industry – pointed out in her fascinating TMRE presentation, marijuana isn’t an entirely new category. The rich cultural history of the herb in America is something the marijuana industry has to negotiate as it tries to create an identity that appeals to a new, more diverse generation of smokers.

Even the word ‘smoker’ is part of the drug’s heritage, not its present – marijuana users are as, if not more, likely to get high by vaping, edibles, or topical lotions and patches. Marketers are faced with a whole legacy vocabulary designed by the authorities to put people off marijuana, not draw them in. They have to weed out phrases like “recreational” – with its negative drug war connotations. Most of all, they have to contend with the Cheech and Chong or slacker-era image of the lazy stoner, something that puts modern marijuana users on the defensive.

Weed culture: from this...

So who are these new users? Paxhia had the figures. 65% male, 84% employed, average age 30, mostly well-off, and roughly evenly split between the major political parties. Most strikingly, only 31% of users claimed they used pot to “get stoned” – but 95% agreed that they used the drug to be more present in the moment, and in the ethnographic part of the study they shared stories of how mundane activities from cleaning to fishing to dog walking were enhanced by cannabis. As Paxhia put it, these people are checking in, not dropping out. Everybody must get centered.

This wholesale adoption of the language of mindfulness was the biggest indication of what made this talk so fascinating. Branded Marijuana – the unbranded stuff still does a brisk trade, I believe - is a very modern category: it’s created by and for younger consumers, and fairly wealthy and bohemian ones at that. So it conforms almost entirely to what they expect – or what marketers expect they expect - from consumer goods. Legal pot is artisanal, tastefully designed, social, inventive and experiential.

Paxhia reported, for instance, that in San Francisco, chefs and ‘budtenders’ are collaborating on private pairing parties where the traditionally close relationship between weed and food can be explored in a more upscale manner. The entire industry is being created along the principles of post mass-marketing: it’s a trendwatcher’s dream.

Of course, most consumer goods categories balance modern marketing approaches with a legacy of how things were done in the 20th century. But while beer, say, struggles to reconcile the Craft-aware kids it wants to sell to with the Bud-chugging masses it always has sold to, marijuana gets to make a clean break. It’s at pains to reject its underground image as corny or childish. No more Reefer Madness – brands like Kiva and Goodship are almost defensively tasteful. “It’s commonplace in the finance business” said one earnest young enthusiast, to the sound of weeping from Jerry Garcia’s unquiet ghost.

...to this: Leafs By Snoop.

But what’s also interesting is that the real breadheads are staying away. Legal pot is – so far – growing without much input from risk averse corporations. Celebrities are getting involved: Snoop Dogg has a brand, naturally, though older consumers recalling the sleeve art to Doggy Style may be disappointed that it looks as discreet as any other. And the market is set to expand, with legal marijuana propositions on the ballot in multiple states this November.

But for now, the legal weed industry has a unique, boutique flavour. It is changing rapidly – the marijuana industry moves in “dog years”, as time in it seems to pass much faster (another departure from tradition). So the business is collectively getting to grips with issues around portion control, regulation, and packaging information – a dramatically steep learning curve. The legal cannabis products of even two years ago look a lot more homespun and less sophisticated than those on sale now.

In the process, it’s not just marijuana’s past that’s being rejected. The future that stoners used to imagine for legal pot – paranoid images of Joe Camel with spliff in hand as Big Tobacco got its claws into weed – has manifestly not come to pass. Paxhia’s 420-degree overview of the category she passionately loves showed that instead it’s a unique test bed for the new norms and assumptions of marketing.

Brand Tracking: How Coca-Cola Found Their Olympic Feeling

On TMRE Day 3, in the Macro Trends track, Coca-Cola Brazil detailed how they’d drawn inspiration from behavioral science to meet the challenge of the Rio Olympics. Coke’s Patricia Fonesca  faced a problem any big brand will be familiar with – how do you measure marketing effectiveness when you have so many different sources of information on your brand and your business that it’s almost impossible to piece them together?

The answer, according to Fonesc a and research agency BrainJuicer, is not ever-larger datasets. “Your data is probably already big enough,” said BrainJuicer’s Gabriel Aleixo. Instead, you need to transform the way you think about consumer behaviour. You must look at consumers for who they are – people making quick, emotional decisions at a “System 1” level. 

By adopting a new model of human behaviour based on this truth, Coca-Cola looked to improve their ability to predict performance.

Their new model had its roots in work starting in 2013, designed to track the long-run up to the 2014 World Cup, held in Brazil. Coca-Cola moved away from metrics like ad recall, purchase intent and brand attributes – “system 2” measures that demanded too much consumer memory and self-knowledge. Instead it tracked emotional response and simple recognition of campaigns as the best way to establish how consumers were reacting to touchpoints in real time.

For the Rio Olympics, Coca-Cola scaled up this marketing effort and added a new dimension – a simple way of tracking brands based on Fame, Feeling and Fluency, the core heuristics that lie behind System 1 decision making. Fame is familiarity – if a brand comes readily to mind, it’s a good choice. Feeling is positive emotion – if you feel good about a brand, it’s a good choice. And Fluency is ease of recognition and distinctiveness – if you recognise a brand or its ‘distinctive assets’ (like red for Coca-Cola) quickly, it’s a good choice.

These three core metrics, according to Coca-Cola, are all you need to know to understand brand performance: they predict 85% of market performance, and also forecast future share and the brand’s ability to charge a price premium. 

Coca-Cola is a ‘5-Star brand’ in Brazil, according to the model, with sky-high Fame and Fluency. But it faces a constant battle to maintain the level of Feeling its status demands – fail to make people happy, and a brand can quickly become a dinosaur. “Why are brand feelings so vital?” asked Fonesca, “They are a lever of market share gains.”

Coca-Cola's campaign was designed to boost Feeling.

To keep Feeling high, Coke needed great emotional marketing, and it needed reach. Despite the rise of social media, even for younger Brazilians TV is an incredibly important medium and a guarantor of reach. The brand came up with a winning emotional idea – “what does gold feel like?” which performed brilliantly in emotional testing: a true 5-Star ad. With the real-time tracking, Coca-Cola could see that 20 million people were being touched a day by the brand during the Rio Olympics, and that 3 out of 4 Brazilians had seen the ads. That kind of massive reach is what a large brand has to aspire to in order to maintain its dominant position.

For Coca-Cola, the investment in emotional marketing paid off. The brand saw its Feeling scores reach unprecedented levels during the Olympics, and this showed up in two ways. First, of every brand in every category, Coke was the brand with the highest Olympic association. And second, higher Feeling led to brand growth, as the brand’s tracked share rose by 1.5 points.

Coca-Cola credited this success to two key factors. First, a really powerful core creative idea (the “gold” campaign). And second, the real-time intelligence to guide them so they knew where and when to move their efforts between channels. For instance, their real-time tracking helped them realise that packaging was the key to communicating that creative idea - an insight they might not otherwise have reached.

And how could other brands take advantage of behavioural science to modernise or reinvent tracking? The presentation ended with three key thoughts.

First, focus on the basics of decision making, and remember it’s fast and frugal, not complex and reasoned.

Second, make sure brand tracker insights always lead to action – maximise impact with simple metrics delivered at speed.

Third, make brand trackers accountable. Simply tying them to equity measures isn’t enough – they must relate to real business results.

Get those things right, and the tracking gold medal could be yours.

Alligators in the Board Room

By: Christina Luppi, Manager, Sentient Decision Science

This post was originally published on the Sentient Decision Science Blog.

“Command the Board Room” is the theme at TMRE 2016. A lofty goal, perhaps. But maybe not so lofty if you’re equipped with the right insights.

Soon Yu, TMRE 2016’s chairperson, immediately endeared himself to the audience by dubbing himself the “biggest failure” in the ballroom. He cited multiple tanked businesses, several career restarts, and a credit score of 300 to support the claim. Why so eager to have his failures be known? To help people better understand how they can succeed.

“Insights teams need to play a critical role in the board room,” Yu stressed. When decision makers want to know why big ideas fail, they find the answer is often human.

Even when the desirability is validated, when the concepts are good and the budgets are excellent, ideas can bomb because of people.

People run into walls of fear when approached with a new idea, said Yu. Next, they run into walls of apathy because so many things are competing for their interest. Lastly, they run into walls of disbelief and are desperate for proof.

“Ideas don’t sell themselves,” Yu explained. “You can’t just have the right content. It requires us becoming champions in the board room. Those walls are human dynamics and exist even with the right content.”

The walls Yu mentioned aren’t about what is right and wrong, they’re emotional barriers all marketers have to deal with at some point. Insights help us break through.

TMRE keynote speaker Zoe Chance left corporate marketing to get her PhD because she wanted to study the complexities of decision making. Really, frustration in the field made her determined to help people make research-based decisions that make sense, rather than see them go with their gut.
What she found is that marketers actually need to suck it up and learn to work better with the board members who make gut decisions—that’s just who we are as a species. Humans are ruled by “alligator psychology,” she noted.

Something we know as System 1 thinking.

“I refer to [System 1 and System 2] as the ‘alligator brain’ and the ‘court,'” Chance explained. “System 1 is unconscious, fast— an automatic decision maker. We only imagine the court is making more decisions than it is.”

Rather than trying to force feed data down the throats of people who won’t swallow, Chance suggested researchers better understand the emotional motivations of our System 1 brains.

She outlined five key forces of influence:

·         Labeling: Giving a name to behavior you want to encourage or discourage.
·         Ease: Ease of use is a more powerful motivator than even pleasure. This is a principle practiced to perfection by companies like Amazon and Uber.
·         Attention: Moments of truth, open loops, and the Zeigarnik effect.
·         Scarcity: Operates through loss aversion.
·         “Hot potato”: When faced with resistance, instead of pushing, hand back a problem to solve.
Notice the acronym? “If you’re going to walk an alligator, it helps to have a LEASH,” Chance said with a smile.

Of course, alligators can be lazy. They sometimes need persuading to bite.

Stephen Dubner, best-selling author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics talked about the power of incentives in marketing.

“Never underestimate the power of free. It doesn’t matter how much of something somebody’s got, how much they’re worth; the alligator part of our brain… will just zap at it.”

To illustrate, Dubner told a story of how the world-renowned Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles dealt with a particular problem, a big problem. Doctors were not washing their hands.

Yes, really.

The issue wasn’t a matter of education—doctors know the science and danger of bacteria—it was a matter of communication. How do you tell medical professionals they must do something they already know they must do?

The hospital tried incentivizing a hand washing program with Starbucks gift cards. And the wealthy MDs snapped them up as though they couldn’t afford their own coffee.

“They turned a life and death problem into a game they wanted to play,” said Dubner. But the card didn’t raise the overall rate of hand washing.

“Data can get you at the ‘what’ pretty easily, and the ‘what’ didn’t work. The ‘why’ is complicated.”
Why gets into psychology, sometimes even into religion. It also delves into the subconscious. What doctors would admit they don’t wash their hands in a hospital?

“Self-reported data is close to worthless,” said Dubner. “This is why we need to know not what people are telling you they will do; we need to get data about what they actually will do.”

Eventually, the board at Cedars-Sinai created graphic images of the bacteria found on their own hands and placed the image on every computer screen saver at Cedars-Sinai. By showing doctors the danger and triggering an emotional response, the research team got the hand-washing rate up to 100-percent almost overnight.

“If that’s the way the human brain works, let’s find a way to take advantage of that and exploit it for some good,” Dubner concluded.

In that light, understanding alligator brain actually sounds pretty rational.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Behavioral Science: Meeting In The Ladies Room

Why, asked Stephanie Magnan of Kimberly-Clark in her enthralling TMRE Day 2 presentation, does behavioral science stop at the restroom door?

From moving candy out of employees’ way to incorporating play and stress reduction, modern workplaces use behavioral science in all sorts of ways. The concept is simple: discreetly “nudge” people into behavior that does them good and makes them happy. Small changes in the environment can make a huge difference in this, because they shift people’s emotional response. As Magnan put it, “we think much less than we think we think”. Emotions are the driver.

But very few behavioral science studies look at workplace restrooms. And that’s a bizarre omission, given how critical they are to employee wellbeing and the fact that, well, everybody uses them. At Kimberly-Clark, Magnan’s team made a few small changes – adding lotions and boxes of Kleenex to the restrooms – and were wowed by the results. Restroom satisfaction jumped from 17% to 77%. People reported lower stress and greater wellbeing. And there was a knock-on effect on perceptions of workplace cleanliness as a whole. The real insight? All these changes were most pronounced (by orders of magnitude) among women.

Behavioral makeover required.

Something about restrooms was critical to women’s experience of the workplace. But what?
With the agency Brandtrust – specialists in behavioral science based projects, who use psychoanalytical techniques to probe emotions in far-ranging 1-on-1 interviews – Magnan and her team vowed to find out. 

Standard satisfaction surveys are of very limited use when you’re looking at emotional response, because they tend to play back post-rationalised reasons instead of getting to the guts of an experience. Magnan described how Brandtrust and Kimberly-Clark instead wanted to “ask the bigger question” – getting to the difficult, perhaps uncomfortable truths lurking behind such dramatic shifts in opinion. Empathy, she pointed out, precedes innovation – to respond to someone’s needs to have to walk in their shoes, not just listen to their voice.

So in this case the bigger question turned out to be – what does it feel like to be a woman at work? By answering that question Magnan was able to get a fuller idea of the unique role the restroom plays in women’s working lives.

The women she talked to described a “cycle of vulnerability and confidence” – working lives made up of small victories and disappointments, including dealing with levels of workplace discrimination. In an open office environment, women feel all eyes are on them – meaning they are always somewhat alienated from their authentic self.

In this context the bathroom is a vital space – a place you have permission to be alone in, where you can sigh, relax, and refocus yourself. While American restroom stalls are perhaps too bijou for it, in other countries women talked about praying or practising yoga in the restroom. It is a sanctuary – a safe space of utmost privacy. No wonder small changes made such a huge difference. The restroom is a space where women “prepare and repair identities” in the gendered panopticon of the modern office. But it’s also a space where they can connect – hierarchy relaxing side-by-side in front of the mirror.

Magnan used her insights to refashion a Staples restroom, adding Kleenex boxes, flowers, full length mirrors (to check outfits properly) and slates with inspirational quotes. The results were a huge success. As one woman put it, “it reminds me so much of my restroom at home”. Exactly.

Magnan’s presentation is an example of the power of behavioral science. Not just to transform experiences and emotions, but as a way in to asking far bigger questions which can lead to deeper human truths emerging. She left the audience with four take outs. First, empathy precedes emotion – only by empathising can we find insights. Second, risk asking the better question – go wider, deeper, less straightforward. Third, know your mission – remember the ultimate goal of your behavioral project. And finally, find your passion within the mission – Magnan’s obvious love of and belief in her work shone through this presentation.